Talking Waco, Lloyd Webber and the music industry with Simon Indelicate

Posted on May 23, 2011


The Indelicates have never been a predictable band. With their second album, 2010’s ‘Songs for Swinging Lovers‘, founder members Julia and Simon made a radical move – escaping the established record industry to set up their own label.

The result? Corporate Records – “a new kind of record company that you can sign to any time it suits you” . It’s not just a vehicle for the band’s own music, but hosts other artists as well.

A year on, and the Indelicates release their latest album – ‘David Koresh Superstar‘. Telling the tale of the 1993 Waco siege, it’s a dark, complex and surprisingly beautiful bunch of songs.

I caught up with Simon after their album launch – which saw around twenty performers take to the stage at one time. Here’s the full audio, with an edited transcript below.

So, how did the project come about?

It’s the kind of question that, normally, I’d make something up for, but actually I do know! About seven years ago, I did a musical based on the Book of Job, which was much more of a comedy thing. During the rehearsals for that, the guy playing job said “What’s next… Waco the Musical?”… as a joke. I kind of thought, “that’s a really good idea, I’m going to do that”.

But then I started reading up on it, and ran into the child abuse stuff… and thought “that’s not really funny!”. And then I realised that it didn’t have to be funny. We could get away with doing something that was at least partly serious!

I thought that with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, how interesting that would be if was definitely not the Son of God. If everyone knew right from the beginning, that there’s no chance that this guy actually is the Son of God.

And it’s not just Koresh’s story you’re telling, is it? Other characters appear as well.

Yes – all of them tangential. One is Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber, who was in the crowd outside, handing out leaflets, and the bombing was two years to the day after the fire.

And I think if you’re writing anything, the main thing that comes up is ‘stupid young men’, and what they do to ruin things. Whether it’s 9/11… it’s a good way to write about that, without actually mentioning to do with it, and stay out of that nest of vipers!

What about the recording of the album? There are some well known names (Jim Bob from Carter USM, Mr Solo/the Vessel of David Devant & His Spirit Wife, and “Sussex’s answer to Jacques Brel” Philip Jeays) and some lesser known…

Well, we just asked people! You always hear bands going “I just made this album for me, and if anyone else likes it then it’s a bonus” – which is bollocks! But at the same time, it is a theologically dense concept album, and sounds like Andrew Lloyd Webber mixed with ELO, and has my favourite artists from when I was a teenager on it. But I really did make it for me! I mean, it’s mainly me that it appeals to!

The Indelicates – ‘David Koresh Superstar’ launch

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And now, you’re effectively running your own label?

When we were signed, it wasn’t anybody’s fault in particular, but it was clearly going badly. We found ourselves in a position where we were signed but couldn’t do anything. They obviously weren’t going to pay for another album. But without them telling us that they weren’t going to, we couldn’t record or write anything without it belonging to them. So in the end we begged them to drop us, and we thought that if we do the opposite of everything they did, it’ll probably work!

So with Corporate Records, we don’t have A&R – anyone can sign themselves to the label if they want to. Most of the stuff is available to download free, but we encourage people to pay.

I don’t fundamentally think that the music industry is screwed. I think that the music industry as it exists has a broken business model, and I think it can be replaced. So we’re tentatively trying to find away towards that.

From a business point of view, what’s like organising a tour, for example? You’re doing it yourselves. Is it harder?

It’s really hard! I can’t pretend that it isn’t a nightmare, and Julia’s on the phone a lot, and it’s a lot of hassle and stress. The number of bands who have people to do it for them is diminishing. I think that now it is harder nowadays. But in return, we have the Internet! The things we get as a society are worth some artists having to work harder. It’s worth it.

We made money on the last record, and we’ve spent it all on this one. And we’re hoping it’ll get better. With this one, we’re hoping to do something else with it, other than just being an album. We’re writing a screenplay. Money comes in all the time, from the label, from sales and gigs and stuff.

The way the sales work on the site is interesting.

Yeah, you can basically sell anything. Once you’ve uploaded a track you can set any minimum price, or a set price, or set ‘anything you want’.

I’d say there are a couple of hundred artists selling on there. It’s hard, because we don’t have any real marketing budget. We could do with a business manager!

Of course, this album’s barely been out a week, but what’s next?

Oh god! We’re thinking about an album of cabaret songs in the dirty, Brechtian mold. Hopefully we’ll be recording some more in Austin…

You can follow the band on Twitter , and visit the Corporate Records site here